Maharashtra rains: Stop indulging in mud-slinging, Uddhav Thackeray urges Opposition

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Calling upon the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to desist from playing politics over the devastation wrought by the retreating monsoon, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday assured farmers that the “Maha Vikas Aghadi” government would not leave them in the lurch.

Also read: Maharashtra rain: Centre must step in to help farmers, says Pawar

Speaking after visiting parts of rain-wracked Solapur district, Mr. Thackeray said the State government had not announced details of an assistance package yet simply because the crisis was not yet over.

“I have not yet made any announcement as the crisis is not yet over. We are collecting information regarding the extent of crop and property damage, the process of panchanamas [assessing damages] is already under way. We have already started providing immediate financial assistance to the families of those who have died in rain-related incidents,” he said. It was pointless announcing something in a hurry as the Meteorological department had forecast more rains till October 24, he said.

Stating that the priority for the administration now is to avoid any further loss of life, Mr. Thackeray appealed to farmers not to despair of their situation while remarking that the State government would approach the Centre for any help needed.

Also read: Rain-hit farmers in Maharashtra stop Minister’s convoy, seek aid

“The State government will leave no stone unturned in helping farmers. If needed, only then we will be approaching the Centre for financial assistance. I have had a phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday who has assured me of every possible help,” he said, exhorting the Opposition not to transform the crisis into a “Centre versus State” scenario.

The politics over excess rain was in full force with former Chief Minister and BJP’s Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis pointedly commencing his tour of rain-hit areas from Baramati — the bastion of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Sharad Pawar.

Mr. Fadnavis criticised the Thackeray government for allegedly waiting for the Centre to step in without declaring financial assistance of its own accord.

“The Centre will help. It has done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future as well. Prime Minister Modi, too, has assured Maharashtra of all help. But why isn’t the State declaring its own assistance package? Last year, we had announced a ₹10,000-crore package at the time of the Sangli-Kolhapur floods without waiting for the Centre to declare aid,” said Mr. Fadnavis.

Also read: Fadnavis to tour Maharashtra’s rain-affected districts from October 19

Mr. Thackeray, without naming Mr. Fadnavis, said in Solapur instead of canvassing for the Bihar polls (where Mr. Fadnavis had been appointed incharge), all of us together should be seeking relief for Maharashtra’s farmers to the Centre.

“We have started giving immediate relief to the rain-afflicted... The Centre is not a ‘foreign’ government. It is the Centre’s duty to come to the aid of any State suffering from a natural calamity. And I think after my phone call with Mr. Modi, I am convinced that if we request the Prime Minister for aid, he will never refuse us,” said the Chief Minister, urging the Opposition not to indulge in political mud-slinging.

Mr. Thackeray sought to dispel the perception, being reinforced by the State BJP leadership, of his not being on the field to monitor the situation.

“I have been continuously monitoring this situation and have been in constant communication with authorities. It isn’t as if I have come to be aware of it just today,” he said, assuring farmers that he would be visiting afflicted regions on Tuesday and Wednesday as well.

Also read: Retreating monsoon wreaks havoc across Maharashtra

Earlier, Mr. Pawar, too, had attempted to defend the Chief Minister by saying the MVA leadership had decided that Mr. Thackeray should remain at a central place to monitor the situation.

“We had advised him [Mr. Thackeray] to remain at one place while the other leaders would be touring the afflicted regions…after all, the person who holds all the administrative threads must stay at one place to make decisions,” Mr. Pawar said in Tuljapur.

Stressing that there was no administrative failure, Mr. Thackeray also said the showers, not seen by farmers in decades, were falling with a peculiar intensity.

In response, Mr. Fadnavis hit out at the Chief Minister and the MVA government remarking that it was unfortunate that it was left to a senior leader like Mr. Pawar to defend the shortcomings of the MVA government.

He claimed that it was only after the BJP leaders had declared their tours that the guardian Ministers of the ruling MVA government had belatedly announced their visits.

Visiting Maladgaon in Baramati, Mr. Fadnavis said: “This is a deplorable situation. In the last eight days, no one from the district administration has made contact with the villagers. There is no aid for them. There is no electricity here as the pole has been washed away in the flood. If this village, right under the nose of the State government, is in this awful state, then one can only imagine the condition of rain-hit villages in the Marathwada.”

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 5:08:24 PM |

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